The initial findings of a national survey, Keep the Sound, being carried out by DeafHear.ie in schools around the country, showed six out of 10 students tested are using their devices at levels likely to cause long-term damage to their hearing.
The survey indicates that as many as 60% of schoolgoers are listening to music at volumes over 91dB with one in four playing their devices at extremely dangerous levels — over 100dB.
At this level, exposure of more than 15 minutes per day will cause permanent and irreparable hearing damage. The group also pointed parents to research which has shown that those using in-ear ear buds are up to four times more likely to damage their hearing as those using over-ear headphones.
The head of information at DeafHear.ie, Brendan Lennon, said the decibel level at which young people were listening to music could cause permanent damage to their hearing.
“It is perfectly safe to listen to music on headphones at volumes up to 85dB,” he said.
“With each additional decibel you should be limiting the length of time you listen on the device. For instance, at 91dB anything more than two hours a day will cause permanent damage.”
He said DeafHear was releasing the preliminary findings in the hope of influencing parents considering buying music players for their children for Christmas.
“We want to encourage parents, and Santa, who may be giving gifts of music players this Christmas to protect the hearing of children and young people. The advice is simple — make sure your child has a set of headphones, not earphones. This is the most effective step to protect your child’s hearing.
“There is a wide range of headphones available on the market, with a wide variety of prices. If you can afford it, it is worth looking at headphones with noise canceling features, which offer additional protection.”